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  • Andrea Williams

Pet Insurance - Is it Really Worth it?


black cat
Insured cat, Mikita

Twenty years ago pet insurance was hardly a thing. As more companies have developed policies over the years, it's really caught on. Some employers are even offering pet insurance! I remember thinking back many years ago when my childhood cat started developing health issues. "Why isn't there pet insurance?" At the time there were very limited options and most people didn't even know about it.


Pet insurance allows pet parents to care for their pet's health like family. Instead of deciding between a $5000 surgery and financial strain, or worse, pet insurance offers people the option to make decisions based more on their pet's needs and less on their financial restrictions. Coverage does have it's limitations. It's imperative to compare plans and companies. In the recent years, insurance companies have evolved allowing you to tailor the plan to your needs and financial situation.


Think of this blog post as being written by a friend who's requested multiple quotes, been through claims, scary situations with their pet and ultimately putting it all together to help you make the most informed decision. If this sounds like the kind of insight you're looking for, read on!


Pet insurance is peace of mind

Bottom line, insurance companies are designed to make money. That being said, I will ALWAYS have insurance for my pets. Here's why.


I don't ever want to sit around and justify a health concern at 1:00 am because it will be an expensive ER visit. I will never put myself in this situation, especially after having some health scares with my cats.


More often than not young cats aren't having major health issues. Pet insurance seems like a money suck when you're not using it. Then, they get a little older. Maybe they're peeing on some clothes, limping for some reason, ate string, the doctor discovered a heart arrhythmia, vomiting, diarrhea. It's crazy how quickly diagnostics, medications and surgeries add up. Once you're in it, the bills pile up and it's so heavy that you can hardly think. I don't ever want to feel this way so we made room in our budget to make pet insurance a non-negotiable must.


Several years ago when choosing pet insurance I compared several companies. Early on we switched from ASPCA to Figo. Although I think ASPCA insurance made some changes, it just felt a little outdated to me. Their site was hard to use and it took a long time for approvals and payouts. From what it looks like, they've made the necessary updates and seem to offer good options.


Let's compare!

There are many sites available who compare insurance companies. Forbes does a nice job of showing a comparison of benefits with several reputable insurance companies. This is a great starting point.


Some companies allow you to choose your reimbursement percentage and some are set. Personally, I like to mess with the sliders a little to see where I can get the benefits and my budget aligned.


Deductible and maximum annual coverage are other great ways to adjust your monthly premium. We chose the middle options with a lower deductible. Some plans offer 100% reimbursement, for a higher monthly premium.


So, what does pet insurance cost? You can expect your premium to be anywhere from $20 to over $100 a month depending on your selections and add ons. Average cost for a solid plan I've found to be around $40-$70/month per cat.


OUR PLAN

$250 deductible + $10,000 annual coverage + 80% reimbursement

*Add on - Vet Exam Fees


Several years later I am still happy with our plan choice.





Add ons

Most insurance companies seem to allow for add-ons. Some may include options like alternative therapies in their premiums while some may offer it as an add on, or not offer it at all. Either way, make sure you have a good understanding of what's included so you're not confused or disappointed when submitting a claim.


Wellness coverage sounds great but it's more of a glorified discount package from what I've seen. If the company you're looking into raves about their wellness plan but doesn't spell out what you're getting and how much, ask questions. These wellness packages typically only cover a portion of routine visits, tests and vaccines. For the most part, we're on the hook for preventative care. Unlike human health insurance, the premiums are just not high enough monthly to cover more extensive routine bloodwork, dental etc.


Accident and illness vet exam visit coverage is often an add on. We opted in for this one and I'm so glad we did. If a cat is sick, you may need to go to the vet multiple times. Those vet appointment fees add up!


Coverage options to look for

Some insurance companies do not cover alternative therapies from licensed veterinarians. This was important to me so I made sure the company we chose covered this.


Many insurance companies do not have an age limit. We bought a policy for our 11 year old cat.


Some companies offer an emergency only insurance option. If you're looking to save money this may be good to consider. Keep in mind, if your pet develops a chronic issue, cancer, needs surgery for a non-emergency reason, it won't be covered.


Dental is a tricky one. Some companies don't cover preventative dental and if they do, it's a very small amount. They may cover certain dental issues due to accident or illness but many companies have prerequisites like yearly dental cleanings, no periodontal disease when initially assessed and a cap for dental coverage. Bottom line, your cat's dental cleanings are going to cost you money. If you want to fully understand the coverage here, call the insurance company and ask for clarification.


Pre-existing conditions

These won't prevent your pet from being able to get pet insurance, to the best of my knowledge. It does however mean those issues may not be covered. For instance, our cat Mikita has a luxating patella. He was born with it. We knew about it when we adopted him. If he ever needs knee surgery, it won't be covered. He did however develop an infected anal gland which was quite serious. Insurance covered bloodwork, multiple vet exam fees, an ER visit, ultrasound and more. Our bill was thousands of dollars. I've never been so happy to have pet insurance.


Ease of claim submission

Is submitting claims without confusion important to you? It is to me! I wanted to be able to submit claims fast and on an app. Snap a pic, be guided through the process and see the money in my account quickly. Definitely take time to understand their claims process. Most insurance companies require you to pay the vet upfront. They will reimburse you after you submit a claim.


Getting a quote

When you've narrowed down the few you'd like to compare a little closer, go directly to the pet insurance site. This will allow you to get all of the up-to-date information. Most companies seem to allow a fairly quick quote once you enter in some information but, I have noticed some ask many more questions than others. If you're someone who loses patience by getting way too deep into filling out endless information, keep reading.


Why we chose Figo Pet Insurance

Out of all the pet insurance sites I visited, Figo was one of the only ones who easily spelled everything out. They only ask for a few pieces of information to get a quote immediately. Get your Figo quote here.


I became frustrated at other insurance companies who wanted me to answer 27 questions. Then, when I didn't have full control of the adjustment sliders to find the best option for me, I bounced. Some gave a little control but it was confusing. I'm a visual person who likes to see the full scope of what I'm dealing with.


Figo directs you to a new page where you can use the sliders to adjust the premium and then select add-ons. You can also see what's covered and what's not. ALL. ON. THE. SAME. PAGE. They spell out the value. Whoever their UX designer is, they're amazing because I'm never confused on their site. Also, if you do have questions, they answer their phone and they're super nice. :)


Now go get some pet insurance! Don't wait until something happens!




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